In this paper, urolithiasis is remarked from the standpoint of descriptive epidemiology, which examines the frequency distribution of a given disease in a population in terms of time, place and personal characteristics with an aim of identifying risk factors or some clues to the etiology. Some descriptive epidemiological features of urolithiasis are summarized. Prevalence rate is around 4% (4-15% in males and 4-8% in females), and incidence rate varies from area to area: 53.2 per 100,000 population in 1975 in Japan, 364 in 1976 in Malaysia, and 540 in 1979 in West Germany. Prevalence and/or incidence rates have, in general, increased in the developed countries since World War II and in the developing countries as well, where upward trends are quite analogous to the trends observed in the nineteenth century in Europe. Recurrence rate, which is much higher in males than in females, ranges from 31% to 75%, depending on the follow-up periods. In the industrialized countries, upper urinary (renal and ureteral) stones account for more than 90% of total stones, which are ordinarily calcium complexes in composition. More common in the developing countries are lower urinary (bladder and urethral) stones, frequently composed of magnesium ammonium phosphate, which indicates a close association with urinary tract infections. Variations in frequency are evident by season and by region within a country. Age and sex differentials in urinary stone formers are substantial: more common in males 30-40 years old in the industrialized countries and in children under 10 years old in the developing countries. Racial differentials are also noted; blacks appear to suffer less frequently than whites. Stone formers experience more frequent episodes of stone formation in their family members, particularly father and brothers, than non-stone formers. These findings on racial differentials and family preponderance suggest the possible relevance of genetic factors in stone formation. Stone formers are more likely to be occupationally sedentary and socially affluent. This observation and differentials by age and sex suggest the probable relevance of lifestyle and environmental factors in stone formation. Epidemiological factors incriminated for stone formation will be discussed in a separate paper.